Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A fun day in Rome, that's Rome, New York

Tuesday, 8/30/11 -Another beautiful day in upstate New York, sun is out and temp is in the 80's. It is so hard to believe a hurricane blew through here a day or so ago. In the AAA Tour Book they have listed a "gem" - Fort Stanwix, that means, don't miss it!

Fort Stanwix www.nps.gov/fost is located in Rome (near WalMart) about 12 miles from our RV park. After lunch we head out to see what the Fort looks like. First off we find out it's FREE which today they don't have anything free. The actual Fort was built by the British in 1758 and what we saw today is a reconstruction of the Fort and all the quarters as they looked back then. The Fort is staffed by park rangers and volunteers. The volunteers are dressed in character as soldiers, craftsmen, an Indian, etc. During the day they have talks, tours and demonstrations for the visitors. Ours was at 1:30 pm - Defending the Frontier. The "soldier" called for 6 volunteers to light the canyon....and I was a "forced" volunteer. We had to march on command, we were each given jobs that we had to do in order to light the canyon. My job was the last one......I lit the canyon. It took about 30 minutes and was pretty fun. Unfortunately, I had the camera on my waistband so Will never got any pictures. After the demonstration, we continued to tour the Fort and see all the "rooms" watch a movie learning about the Fort and it's history. A beautiful large historic Fort in a "berm" setting with the city and Ace Hardware just across the street.

The Fort is located, of course, in their historic district that had many old beautiful buildings. One being St Peter's Roman Catholic Church. It was a big, Gothic looking church build in the early 1800's and was as gorgeous as anything I saw in Europe. Fortunately, it was open and we went inside and the inside was breath taking. Beautiful stain glass windows everywhere, a gorgeous alter and the most unbelievable thing...... a magnificent organ that covered the entire balcony and the organist was actually playing. At first we thought it was just a recording but when I approached the alter to take a picture back towards the balcony, there he was, sitting with his back to the church and playing, it was truly amazing and our timing couldn't have been better. May I add, lots of pictures were taken here.

Next we crossed the street to the Rome Historical Museum www.romehistorical.com and by George this was FREE also....what a hospitable town this is. It was a small but a wonderful museum actually one of the better ones we have seen. It wasn't so overwhelming as so many of them are.... it had simple displays that you actually wanted to read and look at and when we were finished we had a real sense of what Rome, NY really was back then. Hours have passed and we are dead tired....I've said it before, it's hard work sightseeing everyday but fun. We found our car in the parking garage just across from the Historical district and headed home. Much love to all our family and friends.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We survived Huricane Irene in Blossvale, NY

Friday, 8/26/11 - We arrived in our Coast to Coast park called Frosty Acres in Schenectady, NY and are suppose to stay here 7 days. We are very leary as the Weather Channel....our new best friend right now.....keeps showing Hurricane Irene hitting this area pretty good. We are so undecided what to do I tell Will to go out and ask some of the neighbors what they are doing. Everyone he talks with says they are staying and they figure it "should be okay." However, we are still nervous and Will dislikes our parking spot and they won't move us and I dislike the whole place.

When we get up Saturday morning and this gigantic hurricane is heading slowly towards New York I say to Will, "we have been driving all over this country so whats a few hundred more miles, lets get out of here and head West." So we hook up, I tell the guy in the office we are leaving and he laughs at me and shakes his head. We head out on New Yorks toll road I-90 (gosh, Will didn't even fight me on that one) and I start calling RV parks near I-81 and I-90. Most are already filled with other people fleeing places near the ocean. I finally find a Passport America, Treasure Isle RV Park, Blossvale, NY www.treasureislervpark.com about 150 miles west of Schenectady between Syracuse and Rome, New York. We get settled, no trees over us so we get TV and the Weather Channel....plus even local TV with local stations....it's perfect. I go down and do some laundry and when I get back, Will has been reading the park brochure and informs me (big mistake) that the park is located in a flood area and we are surrounded by a rather large river. Oh that's great.....no wonder we were able to get in this place. He assures me it's going to be ok and I'm sure regrets ever telling me that!!!

At exactly 4 am on Sunday morning the rain starts and continues for 14 straight hours.....then off and on for the next couple hours, we have never seen anything like it. The most unbelieveable part of the rain fall is there is not a puddle in sight.....anywhere we can see. My God, where is it going? Will goes down to the river and says it's not even close to the top......would he dare say anything else? The best part about this RV park we are at, is there is little to NO wind and that is what we feared the most.....WIND. So I never got off the couch all day or out of my jammies and watched both TVs all day and all evening. This has been quite an experience....an earthquake and hurricane all in the same week and a tornado at the beginning of the trip.

I talked with Nancy and Howard who live in W Orange, New Jersey and they had a lot of wind and rain but no damage to their place. Howard said the area his office is as located at was flooded and Nancy wasn't sure if she could get into New York City for work on Monday. It has been some experience being back here for this event......boy, does this make Fresno and their 100 plus degree weather look fabulous.

Monday, 8/29/11 - When we got up this morning the sun was shining and it was beautiful here, not a cloud in the sky, they expect temps of 75.....what hurricane???? Later this morning we head into Rome, NY where the local super WalMart is located and find that this area, where we are, is very rural and a farming community. On our ride into Rome we see lots of corn and vegtables growing, lots of horses and beautiful green countryside. It's a part of New York you can't imagine.

After lunch, Will takes a nap and I head out to lay on the chaise lounge in the sun, its warm and beautiful and perfect for reading a book & sunning. Later in the afternoon we head into a small town only a few miles from our park, Sylvan Beach. Now this is a tourist town located on Oneida Lake that is built for families and summer time. There is an amusement park, a cute downtown with shops and restaurants and lots of summer activities on their calendar. However, today being Monday most places are closed and it's pretty quiet but we park and walk around and look at the boats and water, plus the Erie Canal that runs through here and just enjoy being outside in the sunshine. I'm sure we will come back during this week again for some of the things going on. It has been a pretty exciting couple of days and has certainly added more drama to our trip and we are very grateful to have come through Hurricane Irene so well. I tried to contact the RV park we left regarding crediting of points....but the phone lines are down in the area.....I wonder if "that guy" is still laughing......Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene, she is a comin......Dummerston, VT

Thursday, 8/25/11 - With a real threat of rain in Epson, NH this morning we got on the road early to get to our next destination, a Passport America...Hidden Acres Camping Resort, Dummerston, VT. It was only about a 90 mile drive on a beautiful 2 lane road, Highway 9. We arrived before lunch and this is a beautiful RV park with many very large coaches.

And thank you, Jesus we are able to get TV here local and satellite so we have spent the day watching what Hurricane Irene is up to and where & when they are expecting her to hit. It sounds pretty bad for the east coast and it is pretty amazing that at this particular time....we are ON the east coast. We are only here for 1 night and then heading for Schenectady, New York, which is just west of the Vermont border. This is a Coast to Coast park and we have reservations to stay there 7 days.

At this time the Weather Channel is showing that part of NY in the "red zone" but we will see what it looks like tomorrow. The local stations are saying up to 6 inches of rain for this Vermont area on Sunday and high winds. If it seems like a problem in Schenectady there is another Coast to Coast park across the entire state of New York in Parish, near Lake Ontario. Will says we could head out for that place. Right now we are just sitting tight and waiting just like all the other people here. Today it has been rain off and on all day, but no wind. Well that's the latest "weather report" from our end but can I say.......Fresno is looking mighty good right now. Oh and p.s. what a bunch of "pussies" about the 5.8 earthquake here (which we didn't feel). My friend Roger said this evening, the radio stations at home are getting a kick out of how freaked out the east coast people are and that Californians stir their coffee with a 5.8......love it Rog! Much love to all our family and friends.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A day in historic Concord, New Hampshire

Monday, 8/22/11 - We left beautiful Maine this morning and arrived in Espson, New Hampshire about 3 pm, staying at a Coast to Coast park, Blake's Brook Campground www.blakesbrook.com Now this is "kamp-en" our campsite is tucked back in between oaks and pine trees with no neighbors near where we are staying. It is so quite here and not a hint of light at night....anywhere. After the last park with kids, rain & noise we slept like we were dead our first night.

Tuesday, 8/23/11 - There is no laundry facilitys at this campground so we are heading into Concord to find a laundromat and a Super WalMart and we do. With those chores done we head home to have a campfire at our site. I started gathering twigs and wood when we arrived yesterday and have a pretty good size stack so we were able to build a nice fire that lasted a couple hours, long enough for us and plenty of time for the mosquito's to bite me but NOT Will. It really is a beautiful place, lots of trees, paths to walk and we have a small brook running right behind our RV.

Wednesday, 8/24/11 - This is our last full day in New Hampshire so we are going back into historical downtown Concord and see what there is to see. This very, very old town has all brick buildings, with dates in the 1700's and 1800's on everything. We find a great parking garage right off, yes you guess it, Main Street and park all day for a couple of bucks.

We are headed for the Museum of New Hampshire History, located in Eagle Square across from the State House www.nhhistory.org right in the center of downtown. The first thing you see as you enter Eagle Square is this amazing Concord Clock erected in 1872 and fully restored in 1998. It is cast in steel and the bell rings on the hour. We have brought our lunch, in paper sacks and join the downtown workers eating their lunch in the Square. It is a beautiful day, the sun is out, a slight breeze and 80 degrees. After lunch we head into the Museum. As museums go, it's nice but not great for being surrounded by so much history. They have beautiful paintings, a gorgeous Concord Stagecoach and lots of civil and revolutionary war material to took at. I buy my token pencil and postcards and we head outside.

We go across the street to their beautiful State House, located directly across the street from Eagle Square. The grounds have many statues of famous New Hampshire people, a replica of the Liberty Bell, a most gorgeous black walnut tree from Mount Vernon placed there in 1931, a Memorial Arch erected in 1891 to commemorate those who served in the nation's wars and so much more. After walking around the grounds we headed inside to the Visitors Center and they told us we were free to walk thru the three floors of the building.

We took the elevator up to the third floor to work our way down and the third floor is the gallery overlooking the House of Representative. Of course they are all on vacation so no one was there but of course the females working in the offices. (that does sound a bit sexist) We walked around the halls looking at the pictures of all the representatives that have served there through out the years. As you wander thru the halls, painted on the window of doors would be, President of the Senate, Sargent of Arms and all the different "big shots" that have special offices.

The second floor we were actually able to sort of get into the Senate Chambers and House of Representative....it said, No Admittance but no one was around so we walked in and I took a few pictures. The first floor was interesting, it is called the Hall of Flags. They have on display 107 flags representing regiments and batteries from the Civil War, Spanish American War, World Wars I and II and Vietnam. After we left we wandered up and down some of the near by streets admiring the old churches, buildings and homes an incredible step back in time. By this time we are pretty tired so head back to our car and head home to the RV park which is only about 15 miles away and a great drive. This has been a relaxing stay and tomorrow we head for Vermont.....slowly working our way to New Jersey and Nancy and Howard's house. Much love to all our family and friends.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Halloween in August at Balsam Cove, Orland, ME

Saturday, 8/20/11 - At our campground Balsam Cove http://www.balsamcove.com/ they celebrate Halloween in August. It is an all day affair with lots of kids activities during the day. Our participation was adult bingo at 2 pm for 45 minutes......not ANYTHING like Mesa Spirit, AZ, they use the beans to cover up the numbers on the card. Then at 7 pm they had a hayride around the park with the Joe, the owner, driving his tractor pulling a large wagon with hay bales. We jumped on that one (actually they picked us up at our front door) and they had lots of kids and adults dressed in costumes. The kids asked us what we were dressed up as....WE WERE NOT...and we said, tourists. We rode all around the park and after the hayride, the kids came by each campsite and people were sitting and handing out candy treats. You also can't believe how many people decorated their camp sites with Halloween decorations. I might add, WE DID NOT. The kids were very cute and Will handed out his precious Snicker bars, very sparingly.

After the trick or treaters were finished they were to have a big bonfire down by the lake so we head out for a stroll through the campgrounds talking with many of the campers. One older lady who was handing out candy, wanted to give us some but asked what our customers were, I told her, we were really little kids but dressed as "old people" and she started to laugh so hard I think she wet her pants. She told us, "you made my evening" as we strolled away. Now these people know how to make a bonfire, they had huge logs stand up in the shape of a "tepee" with lots of kindling wood in the middle. Old Joe goes over and wets it down with gasoline and throws a match in the middle and WHOOSH......a major bonfire. Lots of people sitting around visiting and we met a lot of nice people. We left before the fire went out as we are not use to being out after dark and hurried home. A fun day at camp!

Sunday, 8/21/11 - I had seen in the local paper that today they were having a Country Jam Session 12:30 to 4:30 in a small town near us, Dedham, ME. So we decided to give it a try and set the girlfriend, GPS to the address, packed a picnic lunch and took off. It was only about 15 miles north of us but girlfriend couldn't find the place, she was close but about a half a mile short of the destination. A kindly hiker gave us directions for the last mile.

Now imagine a town, that we couldn't find a Main Street in, like a post office, gas station or store has an event center! Yep, Peakes Hill Lodge Banquet & Event Center http://www.peakeshilllodge.com/ It seems they have weddings, host dances with live bands, exercise classes and hold other community events there. The outside was built in the "old log look" and inside was a very big bar, snack bar, lots of tables & chairs with a stage and huge dance floor. We were definitely shocked. It seems they have this Country Jam Session every other Sunday and it is recorded and shown back on their local TV station....twice. Well the session started with the house band of three doing the opening few numbers then all the talent comes from locals who get up on stage and sing/play their guitar. Some were good, some just tried and one old lady about 80 years old with not a tooth in her mouth, but darling, gave it a try. They say she is there at every session and sings the same song every time, it was awful, but boy the crowd loved her and gave her a great round of applause. The other big exciting act was a guy who brought his girlfriend up on stage with him and sang a love song to her and after it was over, dropped down on one knee and asked her to marry him.....she said YES and he slipped on the ring. That was soooooo much fun.

We sat at a great table and met two very nice couples, Audrey & Virgil who have been married 52 years and met on a blind date, born & raised in Maine and live about a half hour from there and spend the winters in Zephyrhills, FL. They were a lot of fun and gave us lots of good information about the Florida area they stay at. The other couple was Carol & Ken, both widowers who met at a singles club in the area 3 months ago and just got engaged. I'm telling you, it was a pretty exciting day at Peakes Hill. Shortly before the jam session ended we headed back to our campsite because tomorrow is "moving day" and we actually leave Maine tomorrow. Will always wanted to see Maine but it turned out I liked Maine much better than he did. He will be glad to move on however I could stay another couple weeks. I loved it here and would recommend the state of Maine as a great vacation site to anyone.....especially the Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park area but really Route 1 is something to see and experience. Much love to all family and friends.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A day in Bar Harbor, ME

Thursday, 8/18/11 - We decided to take a drive over and explore Bar Harbor or as the locals pronounce it...Baaaaaa Haaaaaber. actually it's pretty hard to understand some of the locals as they have a very heavy accent and pronounce words in a way that you don't understand. Of course what works best is just smile and nod your head. The drive from our campground to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park http://www.ohranger.com/ is about a 1 hour drive one way and going through the small coastal towns....that would be Main Street USA is slow going. It's one lane all the way except for an occasional passing lane once in a while but a beautiful, scenic drive and with not having anywhere to be we just took our time.

Bar Harbor is an incredibly, beautiful coastal city with a ton of shops for shopping & restaurants for eating but parking......not so much. We got there about 10 am and every place on the street seemed to be completely full with other cars just driving around looking for a spot. We foolishly tried down by the pier and at that exact moment as we turned the corner a car pulled out and we drove right in, high fiving each other on our good fortune. My God we are right in town at the pier, the bad part....it is only 3 hour free parking and then you have to move. We don't care, we will worry about it latter.

We head into the Oli's Trolley http://www.olistrolley.com/ to take a 1 hour narrated tour of the city and a trip up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard.....1,530 ft. Now you could spend a week in just Acadia National Park and not see it all, beautiful roads along the rugged Maine coast line, more than 125 miles of hiking trails and over 500 types of wildflowers. But we were only going to spend the day so the trolley tour was it for us. Cadillac Mountain has beautiful views and lots of granite which runs through out this entire state. We had a 15 minute stop on top of the mountain, just enough time for a couple of pictures.

The tour through the town we saw many beautiful big old homes some belonging many years ago to famous people. I still love every time we go by these old buildings and they have dates from the 1700's and 1800's ...it's so hard to believe how old most things are around here. I still remember that horrible day in Fresno, so long ago, when they tore down the beautiful Fresno Courthouse. Not back here, they don't do things like that! The tour was short but very fun and informative and we had a fun and very knowledgeable driver. We also found out that if we left our car in the 3 hr parking lot we would get a $15 ticket but they would NOT tow the car and the only pay parking lot was $4 per hour.......so we opted for the ticket, which we got, but had a great parking spot all day.

We then set up our picnic lunch with our 2 lawn chairs and Mimi's TV tray right on the sidewalk/pier with a perfect view of the ocean with the sailboats, fishing boats and all the people walking by. You can't believe how many people walk by and talk with us and comment on our very fine restaurant we have. We were there to see a fishing boat go out with tourist on it, plus the Margaret Todd, a 151 ft sailing schooner that sailedpulled out at 2 pm. I originally wanted to go on this schooner but chickened out because I was afraid of seasickness. Of course I now regret it but oh well.

After lunch we walked up and down the darling streets of Bar Harbor town and in and out of shops...that would be ME, in and out of shops. Will is always looking for a bench to sit down and wait. I did manage to make one small purchase....a pink, NEON and I mean neon Maine zippered sweat shirt. I find myself having to walk on these narrow roads in the morning and because I'm always in black I needed something really bright to wear and this is perfect. Everyone can see me coming now! Well we managed to have a fabulous Maine ice cream and loved every lick! We spent the rest of the day walking around in absolutely perfect weather and had a lovely day. Of course there was so much more to see and do in Bar Harbor but as Will says, we see what we can see. Unfortunately, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be jammed in Bar Harbour as they are having a blues festival here so we won't be coming back. A fun day, and I will drop the payment for the parking ticket in the mail tomorrow and we can call it a day.

Friday, 8/19/11 - We are in desperate need of a WalMart run for a pedicure so we head into Ellsworth, Maine which is about 20 miles east of us. Pedicure for Will and pedicure/manicure for me...boy is this a treat. After, we go into the historic downtown area and Will says he will spring for lunch and we are going to have a lobster roll....that's fresh lobster in a grilled hot dog bun. I opt for the lobster salad and he has the lobster roll. As I suspected, Will doesn't like it very much, he says it has no taste, kind of like tofu. I on the other hand loved it.....very moist and sweet and a great salad. Enough about lobster, I think we have decided we would rather eat good old salmon any day, but lunch is very nice and in a very cute place. We then walk up and down the Main Street and me in and out of shops another beautiful, sunny day. After we take the leisurely drive home for a nap. Gosh, is this just the best being retired......we LOVE IT!!

Will unfortunately dropped his phone today and it no longer works so he is forced to start using the new "free" one he got before we left on the trip. Of course, the bad news is... Kim isn't here to set it up for him so he's on his own and guess what....with great patience he did it. He now has a new phone that works but unfortunately it isn't a "normal" ring tone and he doesn't like that, oh the struggles of life. Much love to all our family and friends.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fort Knox & The Observatory Bridge, Prospect, ME

Wednesday, 8/17/11 - It was a beautiful day in Maine, the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the very blue sky above. We were so grateful the rain is gone at least they say for a couple of days.

Will had some glass company come out to fix the "rock hole" on the front window of the RV we picked up the other day on the road. The guy did a great job and the insurance company picked up the tab....so it was a win, win all away around. After he left we decided to go into the town of Bucksport and look at the local attraction.....Fort Knox State Historic Site and The Penobscot Narrows Observatory www.maine.gov/observatory

Actually, Fort Knox and The Bridge are in Prospect, ME...but you think your in the big city of Bucksport. The bridge is a spectacular sight and a very modern looking bridge that has replaced an old bridge that was built in 1929 and they are side by side...the old and the new. They say when the state gets enough money they will tear the old one down and I hope that never happens as they look fabulous together. What we didn't know when we originally crossed the bridge when we arrived the other day is that they have an observatory 420 ft up - 42 stories with a 360 degree views of the Penobscot River and Bay, the Maine countryside and distant mountains to the west. So with our paid admission into the park we got to ride the elevator up to the top and the views were wonderful. We were so lucky for such a clear, beautiful day it just seem like you could see for miles.

After we came down "to earth" we headed over to Fort Knox to walk through this incredible historic fort. It was constructed between 1844 and 1864 to protect the narrows of the Penobscot River from naval attack. Although it never saw combat it was used during the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. The fort's two levels had mounts for 135 cannons, although no more than 74 were brought to the site. They still have a half a dozen or so there. The place is so well preserved and we just climbing stairs and going in and out of the different parts of the place. The views from everywhere are amazing and boy did my camera get a work out today. It was a great afternoon of sightseeing and then Will said he would treat for dinner. Now you would think because we are in the land of lobster and clam chowder that's what we would have but no we headed straight for Ming's Garden in Bucksport and had a Chinese dinner. It was good and Will did get to order a "number 6" off the menu but east coast Chinese is NOT like Sun Sun in Fresno. A fun day and we pray for more sun and nice weather tomorrow as we plan to go into Bar Harbor. Much love to all our family and friends.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Paying our respects to Honorable Bob in Frankfort, ME

Sunday, 8/14/11 - Today is moving day and boy do I hate to leave this beautiful place in Thomaston, ME but our next place is our last campground in Maine....Orland and is closer to Bar Harbor, ME. The drive is a a beautiful one straight up Route 1 that runs right next to the Atlantic Ocean and through the small towns of Maine. It's a beautiful day but they are expecting rain for the next couple days so we hope we make it there before a down pour. We arrive and compared to our last place which was a 9 this would be about a 5..... We are in a large pull thru lot very close to the office/store and pavilion that seems to be open and serving food on Sunday. They are having a birthday party for some guy named Stan and he is 75 years old. They are having a great time and it was ok until the karaoke started. Ok, it was all country music and I was kind of enjoying it at first.....you know, singing along but it started at 3 pm and didn't end until 7 pm....by that time they were down to "the dredges of singer" and I was closing all the windows and turning on MY own country music. Day 1 at Baslm Cove Campground.

Monday, 8/15/11 - The rain has come and boy is it steady but we had planned today was one of many chores.....washing clothes, reordering prescriptions & Jafra, post office and just lots more. Also on our way up here we got a crack in the front windshield of the RV and Will needs to find someone to come out and fix it....that's on his to do list today. It has rained all day and all night at this place and we are just staying inside keeping dry & warm and boy do I wish I was somewhere laying in the very warm sun right now. We definitely know that this will be our ONLY trip to Maine. It is very beautiful here but once is definitely enough.

Tuesday, 8/16/11 - Today is our day to pay our respects to Honorable Bob Tufts. Bob was our next door neighbor in Mesa Spirit, AZ in 2009. We spent a lot of time with him and his ex wife Judy who was out in Arizona with him that year. Bob loved Maine and talked about it all the time and really wanted us to come visit him and stay on his property in Stockton Springs, ME. We wrote back and forth many time and Bob was always sending us something from Maine....and a reminder to come visit him. Last year in 2010 we missed Arizona due to Will's back surgery but sometime after April 2010 I received a letter from Judy telling me that Bob had had a terrible accident and died. We were both shocked and felt so bad that we never got to see Bob again in either Arizona or Maine. So when we decided on the year long trip we knew we would visit Honorable Bob (that's what he called himself on his card he gave out) and pay our respects. So today was the day, rain or not and boy is it coming down. Thank God for the Internet as I was able to Google the obituary notice and then through the yellow pages on the computer find Judy's phone number. When I called the number, Judy was out but I talked with Bob's son, Tom who told us his dad was buried right across the street from where they now live in Frankfort, ME in a family cemetery. We got the address, told the girlfriend, GPS where it was and off we went and surprising enough it was only about 15 miles from our campground.

When we arrived at Judy's address we were unable to find a cemetery across the street so Will went up to the front door and met Tom and he directed us back about 1/4 of a mile or so. Well, it's still raining but off we go and when we find the "dirt path" to the cemetery we see we cannot drive the car in so we have to walk in the mud to get there. Now we have come to far and tired to hard NOT to walk in the mud up there to pay our respects. So off we go, in the mud, about a football field length to get there. It is a darling family cemetery with plots dating back to 1818 and about 20 gravestones. And at last......there was Honorable Bob, born 7/5/34 - 4/11/10. We had hoped to purchase flowers in the small town when we were there but trust me....there was NOTHING in this town but a gas station. So I took out one of our cards, Will made a hole in it and we found a stick and stuck it in the ground right next to the small flag at is grave site. We both felt better just keeping our promise to see Bob and Maine. With that we trudged back out of the place to our car, headed home and got out of our wet clothes and read, slept, had a fire in the fireplace on this dreary afternoon, however "mission accomplished".......rest well dear friend Bob, we will miss you at Mesa Spirit. Much love to all our family and friends.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Andrew Wyeth Day in Christina's World, Camden, Maine

Friday, 8/12/11 - We arrived at our second RV campsite, Saltwater Farm Campground, Thomaston/Cushing, Maine www.saltwaterfarmcampground.com a beautiful site over looking the St. George River in Mid Coast Maine. We actually have a small view of the river from our RV. After speaking with the owner there is a lot to see around here and I wish we would have booked for longer then 2 days, stuff you never know. The incredible bonus of this area is where the Wyeth's did their Maine paintings...N.C., Andrew and Jaimie. There is a museum, a gallery and the Olson House where Christina was painted. I am so excited for tomorrow and our sightseeing day.

Saturday, 8/13/11 - We get an early start as it should be a full day heading out on Route 1....everything in Maine seems to be off this road. Our first stop is Rockland, about 5 miles from the town we are staying in and this is were the Farnsworth Art Museum is located www.farnsworthmuseum.org In purchasing a ticket this entitles you to see the paintings in their museum, the Wyeth Gallery, located across the street in an old church and the Olson House, where the Christina picture was painted in Cushing, Maine. Unfortunately, they also have tours through the Farnsworth Homestead, a 19th century Greek Revival home, but alas it was closed for repairs.

We started with the Farnsworth Museum which was many different artists and painting and photographs of Maine. I really was only was interested in any of the Wyeth Family paintings and drawings and Will didn't know any of them but enjoyed looking. As it turns out they are celebrating "Christina's World" through October 2011 so there were many pictures, books, several short movies (we watched) regarding that painting. Many, many years ago I had that picture hanging in my living room for years and always loved it. It is the painting of Christina, on the ground in a field (you see her back only) arm outstretch, looking up towards a farm house in the distance. This was painted by Andrew Wyeth (N.C. is his father & Jamie is his son.) I knew none of the back story of this painting so it was wonderful to learn all about Christina, who was crippled and her brother, Alvaro Olson, both unmarried that lived in this house and their relationship to Betsy & Andrew Wyeth.....all fascinating for ME.

After the museum and a short walk around town he headed for the next town and stop Camden, Maine looking for the restaurant, Marriner's Grill that our RV park had recommended as she said they had wonderful clam chowder. We found it right on the Main Street in this absolutely darling and very busy tourist town. We started out with a booth inside, then Will discovered they had dining on a patio outside overlooking water. So we found our second table when as soon as we settled down another table overlooking the water and the FALLS came available.....move to table number 3. This time it was perfect. I, of course, start taking pictures of everything around us until our order came. I love the clam chowder but Will likes Pismo Beach better, oh well, Pismo can't duplicate this view!!! While eating we (I guess that should be ME) strike up a conversation with a very nice local couple at the next table, Kim and Al. Al even generously takes a picture of Will & I at our table and we had some great exchanges and some laughs.

After lunch we wander down to the pier and find they have many big sailboats going out all afternoon on 2 hour sailing tours that take you by several lighthouses and along the coast where the rich and famous live in their "cottages" as they call them....but I understand they are mansions/estates. But sadly, all the sailings for this afternoon were sold out so we walked around a little longer then headed back to our car for the drive home. Now Will is tired and has no interest in seeing the Olson house so I drop him off at the RV and take off, map in hand, to try and locate where the Christina painting was done. Gosh, I am so use to the girlfriend, GPS leading me everywhere that it was pretty tough without her giving directions. I got lost several times, stopped and asked for help/directions and eventually found it.

What a glorious experience it was!!! Just seeing the house, the barn, the field where Christina sat was surreal. I went inside and immediately there was a tour starting and they explained the wonderful history of the Olson family, the Wyeth Family dynamics and answered lots of questions from us. We were able to explore all three floors of this old house and take as many pictures as we wanted. A most special thing they did, was they would have a print in the room on the wall of what Andrew painted and you were able to look out the window and see it, an amazing experience.
Finally, they explained that the family cemetery was located across the road from the house, in a field (this is where Christina was "dragging" herself back from visiting her parents grave") Now the docent explained that it was private property and was not owned by the museum and didn't encourage anyone to go there but you could tell by the path, many people do. Of course, I knew I was going and I did. I followed the path across the field down towards the cemetery and much to my surprise or shock.....there was Andrew Wyeth grave...the stone had his name and 1917 - 2009. They don't tell you anywhere he is buried there, I guess, because it is private property and not available to the general public. I also found Christina and Alvaro grave plus other Olson family members. It truly was a wonderful day ......one I never dreamed I would experience. This is another reason this RV trip is so fabulous, all the unknown adventures we have had and will have. Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I"ve walked across the USA-3 miles at a time-Maine

Thursday, 8/11/10 - It occurred to me today that I have walked across the USA 3 miles at a time. That sounded pretty neat to me and now I just have to walk back at that same pace - 3 miles per day.

The weather in Maine is far different from our wonderful Fresno summers, one day sun and 80 degrees, the next day rain and dark clouds. This is just not weather either Will and I could embrace for long. We both agree, Maine is beautiful (what we have seen so far but once will be enough for both of us.)

Tuesday, 8/9 was beautiful and Will stayed busy working around the RV. I on the other handspe layed out at the swimming pool all day and read a book....now that was a hard days work. Wednesday, 8/10 was a rainy, dreary day which all I did wash wash clothes and we both slept. Of course it was 68 degrees and Will was freezing, he layed covered up all day. However on 8/10 .....a special shout out to sister Alice....Happy Birthday!!!

Today, 8/11 is a beautiful day and we are going into Portland again and try and find the dam pier, old downtown and a lighthouse. However, we are going to Triple A first and get a map and information, we will NOT be deterred this time. With all our maps and books in hand we set off for the Old Port Exchange which is the area down by the waterfront. There are old, brick Victorian buildings and brick walkways. Lots of shops of all kinds and eating places everywhere. We wandered around the streets and out on the piers looking at boats and people. We found a great spot to eat our lunch that we brought so we hauled out our chairs and Mimi's TV tray and had lunch. People stop and talked with us and one very nice man, (who happens to be an artist and at one time lived in Cambria, CA) spent about 20 minutes talking with us. It was great.

After lunch we headed for Portland Head Light which is located in Fort Williams. This is a light house that was first operated in 1791 and was the first lighthouse completed after the founding of the United States and is one of the oldest lighthouses in continuous use in the country. There is a museum located there, many paths and a fabulous view of Portland Harbor. Will and I took some pictures there with my phone and I sent out to a few people......so this is where we were when the photos were taken.

After we left there we were dead tired and headed back to the RV in Naples which is at least an hours drive away. It was an absolutely beautiful day, weather wise and we had a great time sightseeing in Portland, Maine. Tomorrow, will be a moving day for us to another location further North in Maine. Much love to all our family and friends.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finally we are in Maine!

Monday, 8/8/11 - We arrived at our new home, Naples Campground, Naples, Maine. When we arrived on Sunday it was in a pouring rain, not a warm and fuzzy introduction to Maine as we had hoped but it can only get better. Our campground is very nice and located in what they call the Lake Region around here. Our campsite is right across from the pool which will be convenient if it stops raining. Actually on Sunday after we got all set up Will and I went into the town of Naples and had dinner and sat on the outside patio looking at the bay. But today we are going to do a little sightseeing back on the Route 1 which is the picturesque road of Maine along the coast.....I guess like our Route 1 in California.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to pick up any Maine brochures and I feel somewhat unprepared for where we are going but what the heck. We head for the town of Portland, ME a large seaport town that Greg says is very interesting with lots to see. We are about a 50 minute drive to Portland and when we arrive we seem to be very turned around and every road we take is another wrong turn. We decide to just get on Route 1 heading south and we see what we see. Well first, the drive is beautiful and the homes are so old and wonderful to look at. Our first stop is a small village town Scarborough where we walk around on the piers and watch people digging for clams and birds diving for fish.

After a short drive we come to what we think is a jewel of a place, Old Orchard Beach, it is a small very touristy town, It was a cross between Pismo Beach (on steroids) and Santa Cruz. The beach was wall to wall people and imagine most of them were French Canadians. We heard very little English spoke here. Parking was none existent but then voila....one metered parking spot appeared right on a short block leading to the beach. We promptly parked the car, got out our ice chest with lunch, our 2 folding chairs and Mimi's TV tray. We walked to the end of the road, set up our stuff in the shade of a motel with a perfect view of the ocean and terrific people watching.....back & forth to the beach. We even had several speak French to us and of course......"we no understand" then they talked English. After lunch, we climbed the stairs of the motel and got a fabulous view of the landscape there and discovered a pier just 2 blocks away. We put more money in the meter and off we went. They had a fabulous amusement park and we were even going to ride the farris wheel but decided instead to have an ice cream....a much better choice, right Nancy? We walked around a bit and got back to the car with 5 minutes to spare.

We decided to keep going on Route 1 to Kennebunk (gosh, I love saying that name, Kennebunk) but alas the beautiful weather we had in Old Orchard Beach has now turned to rain. We head out in Kennebunk on a road along the coast that I can best describe as driving on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. Beautiful old homes, bed and breakfast places and lots of surfers. I swear I felt like I was back in good old Santa Cruz on West Cliff Drive. We then headed for the town of Kennebunk and it was wall to wall people (with umbrellas) with absolutely no parking anywhere. The town was much classier than Santa Cruz more of a Carmel like town. We decided we had enough for the day and had a long drive home so we pointed girlfriend, GPS towards Naples and when we arrived the sun was shinning and it is warm and humid. It was a fun day and at least we got our first experience of Maine and will be here a total of 2 weeks staying in three different RV parks. Stayed tuned for more adventures....much love to all our family and friends.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dwight & Leslie's Horse Barn, Lee, New Hampshire

Friday, 8/5/11 - Last week we were parked in a driveway, today we are parked right next to a horse barn where 10 horses are being boarded.......and the view is GREAT. We found Dwight, Leslie & Julia's house in Lee, N.H. (this is Greg & Andy's friend & they shipped us off to them) We arrived around 2 pm and no one was home so we parked and took a nap while waiting for them to return. After we woke up, they still weren't home so Dwight had said we could park between the red & grey barn, so that's what we did. Found a spot right next to the gray barn and with a fabulous view of the horses when they are in the pasture or close up at the stables eating PLUS a gorgeous view of the their house. when they live. It is absolutely picturesque here. The gray barn is where the horses live & eat and the red barn is where they give lessons in bad weather...hot or cold. There is also an outdoor ring and several pastures for the horses and then acres in the "back" where they grow & bale hay. The official name on the barn is http://www.riversidefarmstables.com/. It seems that people board their horses here as well as take lessons. A fascinating place.

While we were awaiting them to arrive home we met 2 ladies that board horses there, one lady, I don't remember her name just her horse, Derby and Stephanie who boards 8 or 9 horses. Stephanie gives riding lessons and shows horses so hers is a business. Both nice ladies and they showed us around the barn & introduced us to the horses. We have a front row seat, you can sit in the driver and navigator seats and watch the horses come up to the barn, eat or graze in the pasture. At one point they were all running towards the barn and that was quite a sight.

Eventually, Dwight, Leslie & Julia got home and we introduced ourselves to them as their new tenants for two days. Such nice people and very gracious especially with not even knowing who we are. After our dinner we went up to their house and got the tour of the place and visited for part of the evening. We sat outside which was a mistake on my part as it was my first mosquito bite(s) of the trip and boy did they hit me on the legs....ouch!

Saturday, 8/6/11 - Dwight came over early this morning to draw us a map of things to see and do in this area of New Hampshire. With his trusty map and our girlfriend, GPS we took off for our first stop Exeter, NH. It is a wonderful, small but very busy and touristy town and we wanted to see the American Independence Museum www.independencemuseum.org The museum is located in the Ladd Gilman House (1721) that was home to a signer of the U.S. Constitution, a Governor's mansion and also on the property is the Folsom Tavern (1775) a site for political discussions during the Revolution. It was a wonderful place to visit and read the documents and see the pictures and memorabilia of George Washington and other early leaders and founders. We also walked around the Exeter Prep School that is located behind the museum. We were told the tuition there is $40,000 a year and they come from all over the world to attend. Many Presidents and such have attended this 9 thru 12 school. We then walked up and down the main street and had lunch at the Loaf & Ladle that Dwight had recommended. Will had a bowl of their delicious soup, a sandwich and even a slice of pecan pie........a huge lunch for Will. I had their fabulous salad bar....that would be a BIG salad for caw. By now we have spent way to much time here and have to get going to our next stop, Portsmouth, NH.

Well we managed to get lost even with the map and girlfriend, GPS but we found the perfect young man to ask directions of how to find the downtown area and waterfront. He even told us exactly where to go and park & we did and we were right in the middle of everything. We headed first to the waterfront to walk over the bridge that is closed to vehicle traffic. We saw lots of pleasure boats, sailboats, tugs and even one humongous yacht. At the other end of the bridge you are entering Kittery, Maine. On our way back to the NH side, the bells start ringing and all foot traffic is stopped as the bridge is going up to let a large passenger ferry boat and sailboats with tall masts go through. That was very exciting to see. Also on the water/NH side their was a country music concert playing in the park going on so we or I should say me, had some great music to listen to.

After we left the bridge we walked back into town and get some cold water, found a table and did some great people watching. I picked up some brochures of the town and we discovered the John Paul Jone House/Museum was just a couple blocks away and Will really wanted to see it. We had about an hour or so on our meter left so headed over there. www.PortsmouthHistory.org It was filled with wonderful furniture, clothing of the era and lots of information and documents. We spent most of the hour there and got back to our car just in time. There was so much more to see on Dwight's map but the day was gone and we were dead tired so we pointed girlfriends nose toward the barn.....this time a real barn, to take us home, which she did.

Sunday, 8/7/11 - It's moving day today but before we get going Dwight & Leslie come over to hear about our travels on Saturday and were impressed with how much we saw and did. Then Leslie and I took two of the dogs, Gracie and Bowie on a walk down by a river that goes along their property. Leslie said we got in about 2 miles and that was after my 3 mile walk earlier this morning. This is will be a big "step day" on my step counter I wear each day. Dwight & Will stayed at the house drinking coffee and talking. It was a wonderful morning for all of us and we were so glad to meet them and thank them for their wonderful hospitality. We bid our goodbyes to Dwight & Leslie, the horses and hitched up the car and drove the RV off into the east heading for Maine. Much love to all our family and friends.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tuesday 8/2/11 - After leaving Greg & Andy's in Clarion, PA we drove just about the whole length of the state to a Trailer Life park, Lehigh Gorge Camping, White Haven, PA. We had only planned to spend the night as Will now has two things to fix on the RV....the awning over the front door will not extend out and now the seal on the large slide-out has completely come off....as in dragging on the ground. We are both tired but I jump on the computer and try to find a RV dealership near Scranton or Wilkes-Barre, PA. I am calling places, leaving messages, trying to figure out where these places are and oh and it's 4:45 pm. Finally, I see an RV repair shop with the SAME name as our campground and in the same town. Will calls the guy (he closes at 5 pm) and he is ON the same property we are staying. He says, go out the front gate to the propane tank, turn left & there we are. We are stunned, when we look at our RV map, sure enough, there he is listed in the corner. It seems Pop owns everything, daughter runs the RV park & brother runs the RV repair shop. We make an appointment for 2 pm on Wednesday and feel lots of relief.

Wednesday, 8/3/11 - We make arrangement with the office to spend another night here and head into the small town of White Haven. A darling town with a Rite Aid to buy postcards and a grocery store (not WalMart) for some things we needed. Found the post office for stamps & mailing and then took a ride around the area. About this point it started raining, light at first but very steady. I decided to kill some time before 2 pm so wash some clothes. Finally, we unhooked everything in the RV to drive it out the front gate and turn left to the repair shop (I'm still chuckling about this) and Will drove the RV into one of the service bays. Will was inside with him, while I sat in the car reading the newspaper waiting. About an hour latter Will backs out & we drive back through the gate & "set up camp" one more time. All I can say thank God it's an easy process to set this thing up. As it turns out he was able to repair only the awning....as in it now works however he said we will have to take the RV into a place where they will order the rubber strip and install it. Because he told Will it wouldn't hurt anything not to have the seal replaced immediately, Will decided to wait until we get some where we will be staying to get this done. OK by me, lets get out of here and on our way. At least one problem solved.

Thursday, 8/4/11 - Boy, we really made some good time today, we left PA drove straight through New York and mostly through Connecticut. It was a long day and I was having trouble finding a place near I84 to stay at. Finally, good old Passport American came up with Wilderness Lake, Willington, Conn. right off I84 but boy it was a long day and we were both beat. Will took a good nap as soon as we had set up.

Back here they don't have RV parks as "we know them" most of the places are campgrounds where families.......as in lots of kids...come for the summer. This place is over looking a lake and I understand they have a road around the lake which tomorrow I will take on my morning walk. After breakfast we will get back on the road as we are very close to entering Massachusetts (Red Sox Country) which we will drive straight through into New Hampshire. Our dear friends, Greg & Andy have "hooked us up" with a friend of theirs, Dwight who lives in N.H. right near the Maine border and he said we could use HIS driveway for a camping spot which we are excited about. Hopefully, we will be able to explore the lower part of Maine in our car from Dwight's place. Well the Maine destination is looking good at this point.....finally, Will gets to see Maine and pay his respects to Honorable Bob. Much love to all our family and friends.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We rolled into Greg & Andy's at Clarion, PA

Sunday, 7/31/11 - After leaving Mercer, PA this morning Will has a big driving day ahead of him as it's about 1 1/2 hours to Greg & Andy's in Clarion, PA and boy are we excited to visit with them. They have promised us great housing in their driveway and we can't wait.

We rolled in around lunch time and they had a lawn chair out off the driveway with a sign, Welcome Willie & Carole while Greg was on the front lawn blowing a horn welcoming us to the neighborhood. Will was laughing and saying, "same old Greg." It was great to see them both and after we visited awhile and got the tour of their beautiful home, they said we were all invited to their friends summer home (trust me, it's not a cabin) on the Clarion River for a boat ride and dinner and of course we said, "lets go."

We all piled into Greg's car and headed out, getting the tour of downtown Clarion and Clarion University where Greg works, the thing I loved about the university it's right on Main St. in the middle of downtown Clarion, sitting on a hill. It is an absolutely beautiful area here, many trees, old homes & buildings, lots of rolling hills and the ride out to the river was stunning. We parked (behind the house) on a landing and headed down the stairs to the house/deck and the view of the river and other homes was spectacular. Besides the host, Cass & Greg (Cass, a Pirates fan & Greg a Reds fan) there were neighbors of Greg & Andy and several more friends. It seems that all the men are either professors or retired professors of Clarion University. All wonderful, interesting people. They had lots of food prepared and set out to snack on....my favorite kind of eating. However, shortly after we arrived Will & I headed out in the pontoon boat for a ride on the river. They visited at several boat docks, along the way, with other friends and it was a most enjoyable ride and absolutely NO bugs....amazing!

When we returned they had prepared a wonderful dinner of hot dogs (Wills favorite) ribs, salads, veggies and a wonderful array of desserts.....peanut butter something for ME. After dinner & before sunset we took another beautiful boat ride and still NO bugs. What a wonderful day this was with our good friends Greg & Andy and now a bunch of NEW friends, thank you to Cass & Greg for including us....it was a spectacular day. We returned home, thoroughly exhausted and managed a quick shower then fell into bed but not before being very grateful for our good fortunes of living this life style & having wonderful friends.

Monday, 8/1/11 - It's August....how fast is this trip blowing by? For my walk this morning, while Andy is still sleeping, Greg is accompanying me on my 3 mile walk while he rides his bicycle. It was great having the company and of course he took me on a perfect path, cutting down on the hills and getting to walk through the downtown area, seeing their beautiful courthouse. Gosh, the time flew by with Greg there and I didn't have to look at my watch once, he had the whole trip planned out.

After breakfast we discussed what to do and decided to take a ride out to see the first oil well ever drilled in the USA....that's right, it's in PA not Texas or Oklahoma as you would think, but in Oil City, PA, birthplace of the oil industry and headquarters of John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil. It was latter abandoned for the richer oil fields of Texas. Oil City is rich in historic Victorian homes, art galleries and has several self guided walking tours you can take, unfortunately we didn't have the time. Next we headed to Titusville, PA to have lunch and because Will "was buying" Greg really wanted to find an expensive place to eat....cloth napkins and everything....there will be NO Dairy Queen today. We did manage to find a very cute, busy restaurant that unfortunately wasn't expensive enough but had great home cooked food. After lunch we headed over to Drake Well Museum www.drakewell.org which is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the finding of oil. The sad part was, they are closed on Mondays and it's Monday! Actually, everything historic, in the area, is closed on Mondays, the museum and the old train that you can ride. Fortunately, we were able to wander around the Drake Well Museum grounds and see the old derricks, old equipment but were unable to get into the buildings or buy postcards, my favorite. Still, I took lots of pictures and we had a great time.

Before heading back to Clarion, Greg took us through the town looking at one Victorian house after another and we were driving up and down streets oohing and awing over these houses and all the gingerbread on them. Greg said you could buy one of these big houses for under $100,000 (which seemed like a bargain) but the money you would have to put into it to restore it plus over $700 in the winter to heat it makes it impossible to own......but boy are they beautiful. Actually, we did see one that someone VERY RICH is restoring, right on the main road that was out of this world. Greg stopped while Andy & I leaped out to see it more closely and of course I was taking zillions of pictures. Beautiful stonework and "bells & whistles" like you can't believe, all over this house. They have even purchased the lot next to them puting in a huge side yard PLUS also purchasing several lots behind them on the alley with a huge glass greenhouse, a building with 6 garages an housing or who knows what over them....this is plus 4 garages behind the main house, that had a Hummer in it. I MUST come by this place next year or at least have Greg & Andy give me a progress report.

We returned home exhausted and after everyone took a little nap, Greg and Andy prepared a wonderful dinner.... barbecue shrimp kabobs with veggies, salad and corn on the cob. After the dishes were done.....this is what Willie travelled 2,000 miles for.....Greg singing and playing the guitar around the fire pit in their back yard. When Greg & Andy lived in Shaver Lake they had this amazing setup in their backyard and I couldn't believe they could duplicate it but they did and I think it's even better! Greg knows a million songs, funny and otherwise and Will was in heaven but waiting for his favorite. Shocking as it might seem, he couldn't remember the name or any of the lyrics but Andy saved the day....she was coming up with songs and hit it.....Wild Thing, sung by Greg Goodman. Oh thank you Jesus, now Will is happy.....he loves that song sung by Greg. We had a beautiful fire and evening and finally gave it up around 11 pm.....really, really late for us but what a fabulous day.

Tuesday, 8/2/11 - No Greg this morning for my walk but I was able to duplicate the route and enjoyed seeing the beautiful city of Clarion up close & personal. After I returned and had breakfast, we visited with Greg & Andy for a short while, said our thanks you and good byes, backed off the driveway and hooked the car up and waved goodbye to two very dear friends. What a wonderful visit and thank you for your incredible hospitality and information re: Maine we can't wait to get there and experience it for ourselves. Much love to all our family and friends and a great BIG THANK YOU again to Greg & Andy. We can't wait to go RVing with you in California.